I am a woman.
But I’ve not really felt like one most of my life.
It’s not like I’ve felt like a man. I know I’m a woman. But I also know I’ve not felt like one of those women…You know, the all-voluptuous ones, the wild hair, the oozing kind. The sort of woman you see in paintings. The sort of woman who knows she’s a woman.
I’m tall, wide and broad-shouldered. I have big feet and small boobs.
I’m really good at practical things, like stupidly good.
I’m determined. Since losing half my weight I’ve known deep down I can do anything I want and I’ve gone out and done it.
I’m good at maths – when I worked at Microsoft, I could get my head around complicated accounting and database issues just as well as any man.
Under pressure, I knuckle down and work like a trooper. I organise and I prioritise.
My idea of womanhood has been confused: I’ve often held contempt for ‘womanly’ ways; the batting of the eyelids; the ‘flakeyness’; the not-being-able-to-change-a-lightbulb-ness.
And this not feeling like a woman, it’s probably been helped by the fact that:
I spent all of my adolescene seriously obese. No beautiful dresses, no admiring glances, no tottering on heels.
I come from a super-practical family. My Mum is a risk-adverse, logistic queen.
My individual feminine traits as a child weren’t particularly celebrated. My family is about security; I was taught to fit in; happiness and safety come from succeeding in the ‘normal’ world. So I went out and did just that…
I didn’t know anything different.
I forgot about the colourings I did as a child and got my head down to study. I got a job, and then a good job, and then after a few more tries, a really good job. I was good – successful – a person. But a woman? Well, I suppose I would have said, ‘yes, of course I’m a woman’, but that off-hand assention was about as far as it went.
Yet in all of that time, although I couldn’t articulate it, I was longing to really be a woman.
When I lost weight, I’d dress myself up prettily. I looked more womanly…but still it kind of felt empty.
After I split from my husband, I found myself an older man who treated me like a princess. He did and said things that shifted energy and allowed me a glimpse into a corner of my womanhood…but at its core it was still wasting away.
When I lived in Italy, I built my own, unique, beautiful space in my business, Path Less Trodden. I wrote, and a huge part of me part of me felt freed and empowered in my creative, inspiring, story-weaving, but I was still striving. In trying to be the best I was steam-rollering over so much of my feminine nature.
Things were missing. But I didn’t know what they were.
And who’d blame me? There are so few role models of whole, strong women in mainstream society. Instead, society teaches us to get on, be strong, be a success, paint our nails, buy expensive heels and work out at the gym to get a butt that makes men drool and women turn green.
I’d been estranged from the woman-ness for a very long time. In order to ‘be’ in my family and society; in order to get what the world told me I wanted; in order to get on – to get things done; in order to succeed.
I’d left my feminity somewhere in a far land – I swam away; retreating from it as I retreated from vulnerability when I was a kid, eating chocolate in my room on my own.
Yet, now, I’m reclaiming her. I’ve seen her glimmers for some time, but having my son brought her into full view on the horizon. To feel such love; to know how truly vulnerable I was.
To see all the striving I was doing with my business. All the lacks I was trying to put right in my life. All the ‘best’ I was trying to be. And to let it all go.
To trust that it’d be OK. Even though I’d spent all my life doing something. Even though my partner wasn’t earning enough money to support us.
And to pick up a paintbrush, for the first time in my life, at 40 years old.
…use my body
…just make marks
…do whatever I felt like for no other reason than doing
By The Light Of The Moon is the eigth canvas I painted. Here I tried something new: I dripped paint as I longed to, I got hold of a mandala stencil and tried layering that on.
And as I did I felt a pull, to my uniqueness, to my softness, to my womanhood. The part of me that loves beauty, that sees things with wonder and curiosity, that says, ‘I wonder what will happen if you do this’ and, ‘yeah, try it’.
The more I’ve listened to and followed that, the more joy and beauty it has brought into my life; the softer I’ve felt, the more I’ve let go, the more I’ve been able to slow down, look at myself and celebrate the things I love about being the woman that I am.
I love that I have curves. I love how I feel when I create dinner for my family. I love how I see the world. I love that I can create a beautiful homely space. I love that I notice the little things. I love that I can dress up, wear colours and textures. I love just how I love. I love that I have the power to create. I love that I’m at the start of this softness – that I have more to find, love and celebrate.
None of this comes from rigidity; from structure.
It comes from letting go, from listening to life, from slowing down and celebrating, from accepting and loving what makes me unique – from noticing what I’m being drawn towards, letting it loose, giving it respect and a safe space.
I feel the call to go further. To be wilder. To be stronger. And nature is my guide, the flow of the tides, the rhythms of the moon, the beauty of the night.
By The Light Of The Moon reminds me that I am wild, I am a woman, I am free…and to feel whole and complete, I bow to the wild feminine nature of our world in every moment.